Highest number of enforced disappearances was reported in the past two years while maximum number of victims still remained traceless in 2017.
Politicians, students and business people were worst victims of disappearance with whereabouts of 152 still remained unknown since the Awami League government assumed power in 2009 with election pledge promise stating ‘Rule of law will be established…Human rights will be strictly enforced.’
Rights and civic groups continued criticising the government for its failure to find out the victims and to identify the perpetrators.
According to the rights organisation Odhikar, 402 people disappeared between January 2009 and October 2017 and the incidents were clearly of the category of ‘enforced disappearance’ as defined by the international human rights laws, particularly the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
According to the definitions, enforced disappearance occurs when the act is alleged to have happened with the authorisation, support, or acquiescence of a state or state agencies or political organisation, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law, thus further violating his fundamental human rights.
Of those reported incidents, 165 were reported between January 2016 and October 2017 while 237 were reported in the first seven years of the AL government.
Of the enforced disappearances, two occurred in 2009, 18 in 2010, 31 in 2011, 26 in 2012, 54 in 2013, 39 in 2014, 66 in 2015, 91 2016 and 74 in 2017 until October.
The highest 91 cases of enforced disappearances were reported in 2016 while 74 cases were reported in 10 in 2017, Odhikar recorded.
Of the 402 victims, 52 were found dead, 198 returned alive or were shown arrested while the whereabouts of the 152 were never known.
Of the 152 victims whose whereabouts were never found, the highest 36 were disappeared in 2017 followed by 33 in 2013.
According to the rights organisation, 80 per cent of the 402 victims were picked up by the Rapid Action Battalion and the police and the rest by ‘law enforcing agencies’ and ‘people from the government’, among others.
‘I have not seen my brother Shajedul Islam Sumon for four years since he was picked up along with others from Bashundhara residential area … Still there is no investigation or reply from the government. We cannot bear sorrow anymore and want my brother back,’ said Sanjida Islam, now campaigning for families whose relative or members disappeared over the years.
‘Due to the impunity the law enforcement agencies
enjoy and failure of the criminal justice system, enforced disappearance goes unabated,’ said the Odhikar who has been campaigning against enforce disappearance over a decade.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque told New Age earlier that the government’s successes in development work were overshadowed by the alarming trends of human rights abuses.
‘The impunity enjoyed by law enforcers would definitely affect the ruling political leadership in the long run,’ he said.
The issue of enforced disappearance again grabbed the headlines after an anti-extremism analyst Mubashar Hasan Caesar, a North South University assistant professor of political science, disappeared after emerging from a meeting at the UNDP country office in Dhaka’s Agargaon on November 7.
Disappearance of Mubashar, also a counter-extremism analyst with his PhD on political Islam, caused serious tension in the society leading many organisation including Ain O Salish Kendra and Sushasaner Jonno Nagorik, also known as Sujan, to urge the government to find out him and others.
At least six people including Mubashar Hasan had disappeared from Gulshan, Khilgaon and Agargaon in Dhaka in November 5-8.
Of them, engineer Asaduzzaman of Dakkhin Banasree returned home after a day while his brother Faisal Rahman was declared arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion, businessman Gias Uddin of Shahjahanpur returned home a day after he was disappeared on November 5.
The family of Sanofi Aventis pharmacist Abu Muhammad Jamal Rahman of Dakkhin Banashree reported a missing complaint on November 7 and said later that he returned home on November 10.
The whereabouts of Mubashar and Tanvir Hasan Karim, picked up from his Gulshan house by several dozen of the plainclothes on November 8, still remained unknown.
Tanvir is owner of Karim publications, famous for importing books for English-medium schools.
Ain O Salish Kendra recorded 202 incidents of enforced disappearance between January 2015 and September 2017.
Of the victims, 42 were involved in various political parties while 33 were students, 20 were business people and the rests were from cross section of people in society, including teachers, rickshaw pullers and day labours.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Sunday in a function said that detectives were working to trace those who went missing, including Mubashar.
He also urged all to have patience saying that most of those who had gone missing returned to families safely.
Inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Hoque in a function in Chandpur on Friday said that the incidents of missing, abduction and disappearance were not new phenomena and there was law against these crimes since British era.
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